It took 12 innings in Game One of the South Division Championship Series for Max McDowell to deliver an electric walk-off, ground-rule double, handing the Biloxi Shuckers (1-0) a 5-3 win over the Pensacola Blue Wahoos (0-1) on Wednesday night at MGM Park.
Square at three runs apiece, the bottom of the 12th inning began with singles from Trent Grisham and Keston Hiura. After Weston Wilson laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third, the Blue Wahoos opted to intentionally walk Lucas Erceg, loading the bases with just one out. Pensacola brought in a fifth infielder, bringing McDowell to the plate as a pinch hitter in the pitcher's spot in the order.
The Biloxi catcher ripped a 2-1 fastball from LHP Joel Bender (L, 0-1) to left centerfield that one-hopped the wall to end the contest. When asked about his mindset stepping to the plate, McDowell echoed the Shuckers' mindset all season long. "Just do the job," said McDowell. "We were just having fun all night, and I'm glad I got to be a part of it. We know we can do the job here at home, and that's the goal."
Pensacola jumped to an early 2-0 lead in the third inning when TJ Friedl socked a two-run home run to right field off starter RHP Zack Brown. The two runs were the lone tallies allowed by Brown over six innings of work. The Southern League Most Outstanding Pitcher struck out five, allowing just three hits and two walks.
The Shuckers offense provided several scoring opportunities against LHP Seth Varner and finally capitalized in the bottom of the fourth. Grisham sent a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Tyler Heineman. Pensacola stretched the lead back to two in the top of the seventh on a solo home run from Taylor Featherston, but the Shuckers answered back in the seventh when Featherston committed a two-out throwing error that plated Blake Allemand.
Down 3-2 in the eighth, Erceg stepped to the plate with two outs and nobody on in his first game back from the disabled list after missing nearly two weeks. Previously 0-for-3, Erceg took RHP Robinson Leyer (BS, 1) deep to left field to tie the game at three.
The back end of the Shuckers bullpen shut down any and all Blue Wahoos threats. RHP Jon Olczak tossed a 1-2-3 eighth followed by two scoreless frames from RHP Nate Griep. In the 11th and 12th, RHP Cody Ponce (W, 1-0) fanned three and allowed just one hit to set up the walkoff.
The Shuckers look to take a commanding 2-0 series lead with RHP Thomas Jankins (10-9, 4.42) on the mound. Pensacola sends RHP Vladimir Gutierrez (9-10, 4.35) to the bump with first pitch set for 6:35 PM CT.
The Biloxi Shuckers are the Double-A Affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. The Shuckers play at MGM Park in Biloxi, Mississippi. For more information please visit biloxishuckers.com and follow us on Twitter @biloxishuckers and at facebook.com/biloxishuckers.com. Playoff tickets can be purchased at the MGM Park box office or over the phone through Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000. Group outings are also available and can be reserved by calling 228-233-3465 or visiting www.biloxishuckers.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.